here in japan it's 7:00 p.m. on a tuesday. i'm james tengan in tokyo. welcome to "newsline." china's ambassador to japan says his country plans to build civilian facilities on the spratly islands in the south china sea. bae jing is concerned they will use the islands for military purposes. the ambassador said china's reclamation projects are to
protect its sovereignty. he noted that the philippines and other parties that claimed the islands have carried out construction projects in the area. the ambassador also talked about chinese test flights done earlier this month. using a runway on a chinese-made artificial island. chung said the flights were in accordance with international law using civilian aircraft. he added the airfield will be used for rescue operations. chung also said beijing plans to build facilities in the south china sea for maritime traffic safe safety, weather surveying, ocean research and medical services. people along a vast stretch of western and northern japan are feeling the effects of extreme winter weather, biting wind and heavy snow have hit many areas. gusts up to 110 kilometers per hour slammed a city in hokkaido and kanazawa on the sea of japan coast. people in hokkaido and other northern regions are digging out
from as much as 70 centimeters of snow. forecasters at the meteorological agency say a low pressure system has stalled near hokkaido and might bring more blizzards. and they say people should be on the alert against high tides and crashing waves. the rough seas caused damage to some coastal areas in hokkaido. >> translator: it was scary. it reminded me of a tsunami. >> in southwestern japan, strong wind caused a ferry to lose control and slam into a wharf. 33 passengers and crew were on board but coast guard officials say no one was hurt. businesses in japan are enjoying a tourist boom. last year, the country welcomed more visitors from around the globe than ever before. nhk world tells us more.
>> reporter: this small museum doubles its number of foreign visitors this year. over 5,000 tourists come to learn and experience what this is. >> it's very peaceful and very -- a lot of scenery to look at. >> reporter: it's not the only attraction that is seeing a boom. about 80,000 foreigners participated in tours of this beer factory last year. most of them were south korean. >> translator: it's great to drunk japan's beers and learn how they were made. >> reporter: other industries are eager to catch the rapidly building wave of tourists. electronic manufacturers are creating new products aimed directly for sale to the largest number of tourists, the chinese.
this is compatible with chinese voltage are one of the best selling products. and signs are displayed in chinese. >> translator: higher-end products are selling well. chinese customers are checking out our products very closely. >> reporter: it's estimated that over 19.7 million foreigners visited japan in 2015. that's up 47% from the year before. the number is far behind countries like france, the united states and spain. china attracted four times more tourists than japan in 2014. japanese officials have a target of 20 million visitors by 2020, in time for the tokyo olympics. but they are facing hurdles. one is a lack of hotel rooms. tokyo's occupancy rate was over 80% last year.
officials say they're working to allow citizens to rent their rooms out to create more capacity. another challenge is increasing international flights. officials want to create new routes and build a new runway at the airport. but some local residents are concerned about the noise. >> translator: we'll make every effort to improve the accessibility to japan's regional areas so they can receive more foreign visitors. >> reporter: more people are seeing the potential growth in the tourism industry. but added to the concerns are fears that the stronger yen might discourage visitors and expectations for the government to help are very high. nhk world. >> thank you. hundreds of companies and organizations are showcasing their latest environmental technologies at an exhibition in
the uae. u.n. secretary general ban ki-moon outlined why the products are so important in a speech. >> and 1.5 centigrade. we need to scale up clean sustainable energy. >> 650 exhibitors from about 40 countries are taking part. some participants presented models of so-called smart cities with more efficient electricity grids. one japanese company showed a next generation streetlight. it's powered by solar and wind energy. and comes equipped with the device to treat people with heart problems. investors now know china's growth is slowing as it tries to convert itself from a manufacturing hub to a consumer-led economy. gene otani has the latest data coming out of the country and
other stories from the business desk. gene? >> thanks, james. china's latest gdp shows the economy had lost steam in 2015 and expanded at its slowest pace in 25 years. the numbers is within analyst expectations and close to the government target. the national bureau of statistics says gross domestic product grew by 6.9% in 2015. that's down from the rate of 7.3% in the previous year. it's the slowest since 1990 when the country's economy was hampered by sanctions following the tiananmen square incident of 1989. the pace of growth in the final quarter of last year was 6.8%. the government had set a target for annual growth of around 7%. nhk world senior commentator joins us in the studio for more on china. he's recently spent two years in beijing covering asia's largest economy.
akihiro, you were in china from 2012 to 2014, when china's economy was less than the double digit growth. economy grew at the slowest pace in 25 years. what's your take on the gdp? >> it's a decline from the previous year when the economy had a growth rate of 7.3%. 2015's figure is attributed to a drastic drop in demand for iron and cement caused by poor housing sales. the chinese government has set a goal of around 7%. officials say the actual number is within expectations. >> translator: chinese economy is going through a structural reform. and the market environment is changing, too, and yet, china managed to achieve a growth rate of 6.9% last year. that's not an easy thing to do. >> however, the government lowered its interest rates
several times last year to support the economy. so, while it grew through stimulus measures, the economy is not as strong as the government boasts. >> china's also going to be facing a tough global economy. what would be the prospect for growth this year? >> domestic development is still suffering because of too much construction in recent years. exports are not likely to increase much during a slowing global enomy. so, 7% growth won't be easy. in 2012 the communist party set a goal to double gdp by 2020. the government says to achieve that it needs a minimum average of 6.5% for the next five years. so expect a target between 6.5% to 7%. >> so what would be the deciding factor for china's growth? >> well, the key is consumption.
in last year's gdp survey, the service industry shows strong growth. however, future consumption depends on the economic object. some areas are concerned that because expectations are low, consumers may cut their spending. another factor is countries' exports. the china-initiated asian infrastructure investment bank, or aiib, just opened. the bank aims to support infrastructure building in asia and that could boost two big industries in china, iron and cement. >> translator: the aiib was not only established for the purpose of exporting excess chinese materials but countries will need steel and cement in future projects. the bank will support countries in carrying those out so it is a win-win deal. >> cement and iron are just two of china's exports.
all of which are affected by the exchange rate of the chinese currency, the yuan. this graph shows very different rates for currencies set by the chinese government. the rate has gradually weakened since late december. some analysts say the government is actually trying to weaken the yuan to make it advantageous for exporters. but if it continues to depreciate, it may be seen as a sign of weakness in the economy. that would mean some companies might take their money out of china and others might stop investing. the chinese government faces difficult tasks, including handling its currency policies to maintain steady growth. china's economic performance will affect the world's financial markets like it did last year. so we should pay close attention to how it manages its economic policy.
national monetary fund officials have downgraded their global economic growth forecast for 2016. they say fading momentum in china and tumbling crude oil prices are hurting emerging countries. the official growth will come in at 3.4%, down 0.2 percentage point from the forecast in october. they also lowered their projection for u.s. growth to 2.6%, down by the same amount. they say the economy there remains strong. they were more positive about the situation in europe, lifting their forecast for the eurozone to 1.7%, up 0.1 percentage point. the officials kept their forecast for japan at 1%. they said better wages and other factors will create stable growth in the world's third biggest economy. they predict china's economy will expand by 6.3%, well done from last year. and they say the economies of
brazil and russia will likely shrink for the second straight year. brazil's economy by 3.5% and russia's by 1%. they say the plunge in oil prices will hurt the economy, saudi arabia will grow only 1.2%. markets in the asia-pacific region rallied after china was out with their gdp number. tokyo also managed to eke out gains at the close on tuesday. for more we go to our business reporter, mayu yoshida at the toxio stock exchange. >> the word volatility describes the day's trading. china's gdp numbers almost matched systems. one money manager i talked to said although the data is not terrible it doesn't provide clarity on how beijing will deal with its economy. we saw mixed reactions of that. shares were volatile here in tokyo. the nikke slipped below 17,000 but ended up 0.5%.
the topix moved up and down but moved higher, closing up 0.2%. the nikkei and the topix closed higher for the first time in four i das. the nikkei's rise could be short lived because market sentiment is still bearish and investors are letting go of risky assets, especially since the nikkei is fluctuating around the bear market level. now, in currency markets i want to dig into the hong kong dollar which fell sharply against u.s. dollar during tokyo trading hours. worries reman over the chinese economy and the hong kong dollar hit its lowest level since august 2011. that's about four years ago. and the chinese gdp after all grew at the slowest pace in a quarter century. market players are still fleeing to safer assets like the japanese yen. one analyst i talked to said if the yen's appreciation accelerates that would affect japanese equity markets in the lo term, especially
automakers. i'm mayu yoshida reporting from the tokyo stock exchange. >> thank you. moving on to other markets. in china, the shanghai composite rally more than 3% ending above the key 3,000 mark for the first time in three sessions. weak data fueled expectations that the government is under pressure to roll out further stimulus measures. sharp gains in china improved sentiment across the region. the hang seng jumped 2%, the biggest one-day gain in two months. some market players picked up share which is had been oversold. seoul's kospi advanced 0.6%. the s&p asx rebounded 0.9% from 2.5-year low on monday. shares in mumbai rose for the first time in four days. more pressure is being put on profitable firms to reward their workers. for the third year in a row, officials at the japan business
federation are urging companies to raise wages. officials included the recommendation in their policy for annual wage negotiations in spring. they said firms that are doing well should give bigger raises but they said unlike last year, they won't pressure businesses to increase their base pay. unstead they'll ask managers to consider alternatives such as bigger bonuses or hikes for workers with families. the officials said they want to avoid placing too big a burden on management. prime minister shinzo abe says he intends to raise japan's consumption tax from the current 8% to 10% in april of next year as planned. abe was responding to comments in an upper house budget committee session. the tax hik was suggested to be postponed since the country was not yet out of deflation. >> translator: with regard to the credibility of japan's state finances, there must be a tax increase unless we encounter
something really shocking such as the collapse of lehman brothers or a major disaster. >> the prime minister acknowledged that the april 2014 rate increase greatly affected consumption. that year the tax went from 5% to the current 8%. abe added that the government needs to pass down japan's globally leading social welfare system to the next generation. the average price of a new condominium in the tokyo metropolitan area last year was at its highest level since 1991. a private research firm says the average price was about $470,000, up more than 9% from 2014. the rise is mainly due to increases in construction and labor costs. japan ahoping the u.s. will become a stable source of crude oil after washington lifted a 40-year old ban on shims. japanese wholesaler kosmo oil will handle the first delivery.
zuckerberg have taken paternity leave. a japanese politician's request to take paternity leave is opening up debate about work/life balance for dads in japan. >> reporter: this man is not like the average japanese father. he's on paternity leave to be with his 8-month-old daughter. his wife had to return to work. so, they decided he would take three months off to care for the kids and housework. >> translator: it was a tough decision. >> reporter: but he says he doesn't regret it. because he can watch his daughter grow each day, what he's concerned about is his career and co-workers. he works for a major company life insurer where the average man only takes a week off to be with their children. >> translator: i felt by not being there for so long, i would cause a burden on my team members. >> reporter: many are opting out of paternity leave.
only 2.3% of those eligible for paternity leave took it in 2014. the government wants to raise the rate to 13% by 2020. it's part of the abe administration's attempt to keep more women in the work force after they have kids. but the situation in abe's own workplace has not set a good example for fathers. last month, a lawmaker from abe's party announced he wants to become japan's first member of the diet to take paternity leave. he requested a month off to support his wife who's a fellow member. >> translator: i intend to promote men's participation in child-rearing in order to support working women. >> reporter: currently, the lower house-to-has no rules for lawmakers taking child care leave. they hope to revise the regulations so politicians can take a certain amount of time off. the request is stirring debate in the government. >> translator: it could cause a problem if there's a situation
in the diet where one vote would determine the outcome. >> translator: i want men to become aware that every parent has a right to take time off. with that in mind, i wt men to have their own parental leave. >> reporter: critics say he could take time off without changing the rules. and accuse him of just trying to get publicity. an opposition member slammed the couple on twitter. their jobs as politicians aren't to indulge in the luxury of taking time off together wle receiving full pay, she said. but change e laws t proteccitizens who can't take time off. t outsidthe dietsome applaud s plans. this symposium was held on monday to discuss the impact of his paternity leave on society. some of the panelists were the first men to take leave in their fields. >> translator: it's important to have high-profile examples. i'm the president of a company and i took paternity leave. that changed the atmosphere at
my firm. >> reporter: the organizer of the event hopes that change will spread to all corners of society. >> i think having and raising children is a basic human right whether it's a member of parliament or a sports player. each individual has that right. i want society to allow each person who wants it to be able to exercise it. >> reporter: he still feels like a minority, but he says -- >> translator: i'm grateful that a well-known person like him is raising his voice to promote a lifestyle of balancing home and work. >> reporter: whether the rules in the lower house are changed or not, the rare example on the national stage is sparking conversation in the country and perhaps that's the real point. yuri ito, nhk world. >> thanks for that report. heavy snowfall disrupted
ground transport and closed schools in istanbul. jonathan oh is here with the details. we're giving a close look at what's happening in the balkans and turkey because of this persistent snowfall hats been in the area.7hats been in the area.hats been in the area. i want to take you to istanbul. the heavy snow forced hundreds of flights to be canceled in and out of the city monday and tuesday. authorities also announced the suspension of classes for all schools monday. workers at several government departments were also allowed to take the day off in order to minimize accidents. but here's the thing, more snow is expected as we go forward in time. here's the reason why. we have a lot of cold air digging in from the north and that is continuing to bring in
some of this very frigid air. on top of that, we have moisture coming in from the west. that combination led to the persistent snowfall in various locations. i want to take you over into ukraine where this area has been dealing with some snowfall, a lot of it, you can see here the cars starting to back up because of the traffic issues and snowplows out in full force. we are looking at some more in terms of wintry weather. this low pressure system that initially brought the snow into the balkans and also into turkey on monday is now to the north and east. but behind it, another low pressure system is in place. a high pressure system is bringing in cold air along with the dip in the jet stream. that combination fueling some really chilly air. snow possible as we go forward in time. looking at unstable weaer back toward the west. here's a look at what's happening in turkey, yes, more snow on the way. and once again, the balkans, that low coming in from italy, looking at a chance
for some snowfall. kiev on tuesday, ankara, all looking at snow possibilities on tuesday. that lingers in various locations throughout the next few days. now, a look at what's happening in japan. yes, we are talking about some very wintry weather as well. look at some of these interesting storm reports. some areas saw gusts up to 162 kilometers per hour with very high wave heights and snowfall reaching 60 centimeters in just 24 hours in some places. now, we are looking out for some concerns when it comes to avalanches because of the way this is set up in terms of the winds and also because of the instability of the snow on the ground. please be very careful if you're going out in those locations, avoid them if at all possible. more snowfall is possible as well for up to 120 centimeters into hokkaido and other portions of japan, anywhere from 10 to 100 centimeters as we go into wednesday morning.
in terms of chilly weather, highs below freezing for the rest of this week. that's chilly. single-digit highs. maybe a chance for snow in tokyo on saturday. okinawa, highs in the teens. that's cold for those living in okinawa. look out for that. quick look at what's happening in north america, we're watching out for more lake-effect snow in the northeast. 30 centimeters of snowfall report in westn new yo on moay. oking athe possibility of more lake-effect snow with some weakening on tuesday. but chilly weather entering the area as we go throughout the day. hope you have a good day wherever you are. here's your extended outlook.
>> hello and welcome to live from paris. i am an net young. livia announces a new unity government aimed at bringing together the country's warring factions. also, the polish prime minister addresses european parliament this afternoon, as poland faces and escalating dispute with eu's over expanding its control. from the chinese